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Sitting in a bent chair outside of a coffee shop, nonchalantly scooping his nachos, he seemed to be lost in thought. Rocking side to side with each shift of his weight, he hardly seemed to notice the passersby.
However, this neat, little round man with his balding round head looked up briefly as we passed. Those eyes! They were far away and sad. He wasn’t really looking at me, but something inside me went, “ding, ding, ding – alert!”
I didn’t look back, but I’m pretty sure I noticed a medium-sized duffle bag on wheels, with a neatly penned sign, “Please help – homeless,” sitting on top.
Could it be? I have a knack for picking up on these things. Still walking, I found myself scrunching up my eyebrows trying to recall a picture of what I just passed.
“Did you see that?” I asked my husband.
“What?” he asked back.
Well, it was obvious that he noticed nothing. Randy was already guiding me by my elbow into the coffee shop, so I didn’t want to detract from him. We’d just come from a lively family birthday dinner, and were looking forward to a few minutes of “just us” before heading out on the drive home.
We got our coffee and I sat so I could see the door. Randy was on the phone, so I sat watching as colorful characters strode in and out of the shop. My mind kept going back to this fellow. I wondered if he was still there.
As if in answer to my thoughts, in he strode and headed for the bathroom. Was that really the same guy? He seemed too clean to be homeless. I looked for the duffle. Moments later, he was nearly in front of me, standing in line for some black coffee to be added to a travel thermos. He counted his coins. There was a subdued exchange back and forth between him and the guy behind the counter. He left.
Minutes later, we headed for our car. It was parked smack in front of where the man was sitting. From all appearances he seemed like a normal person just enjoying his food and the new daylight savings time. His sign had fallen over, and since he was so neat and clean, none would have suspected.
Scrutinizing the situation, I Instinctively grabbed one of our pre-made homeless bags from the back, all the while whispering to Randy. He was stuck on “pause,” so I had to give him a minute to get up to speed and follow what I was doing.
Before the coffee shop, we had stopped at the store where I picked up more than I needed. Now I knew why. Into the bag went these extra items. Then, between us, we managed to scrounge together $10 in cash. Since Randy was with me, I sent him over to deliver everything.
From inside the car I observed the man’s face brighten as Randy handed him the bag and money. He pulled out an orange and grinned! A brief conversation ensued, and then Randy got in our car.
He was quiet.
“What’s up?” I asked
He backed the car out and put it into drive. I looked back to see the man rummaging thru the bag. He looked pleased. I tried to remember what Chick booklets I had placed inside. No matter, most of them have a printed message that shows the way to God and the Life hereafter.
Headed toward the windmills, Randy finally spoke.
“His name is David, and. . . “ Then, Randy proceeded to fill me in.
David’s story brought tears to my eyes for so many reasons. In short, he was trying to get some work so he could get to Canada to be with his boyfriend, where he could “end this thing with someone who loved and cared about him.”
The words stung my ears.
“End this thing”….did he mean life?
Yes……He was dying of AIDS. He expressed his feelings as if no one else on earth considered him valuable.
My mood became somber and I started praying out loud over him. How could he NOT know that there is a God who loved him and doesn’t want him to be alone? Doesn’t he know that God considers his life precious?
How…could…he …live…here…in …this…country…and…not…know?
Suddenly I felt as if I hadn’t done enough, but we were already miles away.
Tears came, more in frustration and anger aimed at the destroyer of lives, than anything. What if he didn’t last? I prayed for another “Laborer of the Harvest” to be sent to him. We usually pray with people but it didn’t work out this time.
Thoughts revolved in my head as accompanying emotions left me feeling momentarily helpless. I did what I could do, but it seemed extremely minute in light of his need.
We take a lot for granted. All things being considered, our existence is really very brief.
But, this is NOT the End. Once we step out of our bodies that is when we will acquire full and perfect knowledge of the LOVE that IS waiting for us. This is our everlasting treasure!
I have to trust that the Loving Heavenly Father will be able to reach David and meet his real need. As for me….I continue to “go into all” my world and reach out to the people placed in my path. The excellence of God’s power can get into a situation – any situation – even David’s. When I do what I can do, God will do what I can’t.
There is trouble on every side, but The Treasure that’s been put inside me trumps trouble every time.
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